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Warriors battle back too late, fall to Clippers 98-96

  • Blake Griffin dunks the ball against the Golden State Warriors during Game 3 in Oakland on Thursday, April 24, 2014. (CHRISTOPHER CHUNG / The Press Democrat)

OAKLAND — A deafening crowd at Oracle Arena ... a big second-half comeback ... a bully getting pushed back. Thursday night's Game 3 had all the makings of a playoff game that would become part of Warriors lore.

But the visiting Los Angeles Clippers tore the script in half.

After watching their 18-point lead dwindle to almost nothing, the Clippers forced Stephen Curry into a very difficult shot with four seconds left. It fell well short of the mark, and Los Angeles survived with a 98-96 victory, reclaiming the home-court advantage in this best-of-seven series.

Warriors vs. Clippers Playoff Game 3

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Did Curry think Los Angeles' Chris Paul made contact on that final attempt?

“I did,” Curry said afterward. “I thought I had initiated enough contact on the stepback to draw the foul, especially on the way up. It's usually a point of emphasis: You're not allowed to bump a guy while he's jumping up in the air for a shot. I thought that's what happened.”

Golden State couldn't hit 3-pointers for vast stretches of the game, and Clippers couldn't make their free throws. But L.A., coming off a 40-point mauling in Game 2, was just a little better this time.

Blake Griffin scored 32 points on a variety of shots, and center DeAndre Jordan snared 22 rebounds, the most by a Clipper in a postseason game since the franchise moved to Los Angeles.

Los Angeles twice pushed its lead to 18 points, the second time on J.J. Redick's 3-pointer at the 5:31 mark of the third quarter. But the Warriors climbed back into it largely behind the artistry of Klay Thompson, who would finish with 26 points.

Golden State cut the Clippers' lead to 87-86 on Thompson's short turnaround jumper with 4:24 left in the game, watched L.A. bump the margin back up to eight points, then trimmed it to 97-96 on Curry's second straight 3-pointer.

The Warriors' All-Star finished with just 16 points, though he dished out 15 assists.

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